9 of the Biggest Casino Heists in History

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Today we’re talking about casino heists, robberies cheats, and scams. We do not condone any of the below practices and want to make our readers aware that sometimes casinos are a target of major heists. In fact, it’s just as likely you’ll be at a casino when it’s robbed as you would if you were visiting a bank. It’s still unlikely that you’ll see a robbery go down, but it’s taken place more times than you might think.

If you think about it, it makes sense that a casino would be a primary target for a robbery. When there are massive amounts of money located in a single place (like a bank), it’s only a matter of time before a greedy criminal takes a stab at it. It’s a terrible idea, of course, and it ends badly for practically anyone who tries it.

Robbing a casino in real life is never as it’s portrayed in Hollywood. There are rarely elaborate plans, the villains are evil people, and the criminals rarely get away with the money. Instead of getting together after the heist to talk about how they’ll spend the money, the heist is stopped in its tracks before you even get remotely close to the door. There are a few stories, however, where people hit casinos for big cash scores, the stuff that ultimately turns into a Hollywood hit film.

Bill’s Stardust Robbery | In-House Job | $500K

In 1992, William Brennan, a cashier who worked for the Vegas casino Stardust (no longer open), filled a trash bag full of cash and chips, threw it over his shoulder, and walked right out of the casino. The bag contained over $500,000 worth of money and chips. Word on the streets is that Mr. Brennan had an accomplice who likely killed him for his trash bag full of cash.

To this day, William Brennan is still on the FBI’s most wanted list but has never been seen or heard from since the robbery. Bill’s heist is one of the most famous Las Vegas casino rip-off stories of all time. It has resulted in many casino security standards still active today. It’s highly unlikely that an employee could pull off something like this in modern casinos, especially since employees are monitored even closer than the players.

Stealing the Crown | In-House Job | $32M

The Crown Casino in Perth, Australia suffered a $32-million-dollar robbery attempt by one of their staff members in 2013. The story involves two men; one of them a card dealer who’s sick of their job, the other a high roller visiting from a foreign country. The duo planned to take the wins and move the money as if it had been lost in regular play, hoping the casino wouldn’t catch the hit in time. Their greed caused the floor staff to investigate the foreign player’s chance. After reviewing a few of the high-paying hands, the floor staff discovered the robbery in process.

The game was ceased, the player was escorted from the casino. The employee was then immediately fired. The penalties for these two were less than a slap on the wrist with all things considered. This type of theft has been a security issue for casinos all over the world. It’s led to tighter policies related to hand play, cameras, and approval for larger bets. Any time money changes hands; it’s always a potential security issue. It’s likely that the Crown has put in place operating producers to prevent future robberies.

Bellagio’s Biker Bandit | Armed Robbery | $1.5M

Tony Carleo rode his motorcycle up to the steps of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and headed straight to the craps tables. Wearing a bike helmet, with a gun in hand, he cleared the tables of chips. He then jumped on his motorcycle and took off before casino security could respond or the authorities were alerted.

Carleo’s biggest mistake was when he went to sell the chips he stole. He unknowingly attempted to sell them to an undercover police detective. When you take chips from a craps table, you don’t have time to sort them out. The trouble was that the highest valued chips were nearly impossible for Carleo to convert to cash, likely because some of the denominations were up to $25K for a single chip. It’s hard to move around any amounts larger than $10,00 at a time in most states, as banks need to report those more significant transactions for tax accounting.

As with most armed robberies, it didn’t work out. This crime was obviously an emotionally based decision, and various errors were made in its execution. When you rob places, and you do it more than once, you must expect you’re going to get jailed. Anthony Carleo (aka “The Biker Bandit”) is currently serving a 9 to 27-year prison sentence for this and other casino robberies.

Robbery at the Circus Circus | Stolen Armored Truck | $2.95M

Heather Tallchief had a job driving armored vehicles. In the autumn of 1993, Instead of bringing her truck full of cash to the bank, Heather drove away from the Circus Circus casino with nearly $ 3 million in stolen cash. She left the country with her boyfriend, Roberto Solis to hide in the Netherlands.

In 2005, she turned herself. That’s right; she came back. She went to the police with her wrist out and said, “Arrest me.” The guilt of her crime was a burden she just couldn’t stand to bear any longer.

She was sentenced to 5 years and three months in prison, but her boyfriend Roberto remains at large. For an inside job, this would have been a textbook win for the crook, at least until the guilt was too much to bear.

Pirating Treasure Island | Armed Robbery | $30K

Reginald Johnson is known for his attempted heists at Treasure Island Casino and Hotel, but he certainly isn’t the only person to try, as the casino has had many robbery attempts in the past. What makes Mr. Johnson unique, however, is that he had attempted robbing Treasure Island twice before his third ‘successful’ robbery. There’s not much glamor here as Reginald is considered a bit of career criminal.

I hate to judge, but Reginald’s robbery wasn’t that lucky, as it was only $30K; a smaller score than comparable casino robberies. This guy is a bit of a monster; robbing various other establishments aside from Treasure Island. In some of his other crimes, he hurt people. Despite having a smaller theft total, Reginald is currently serving a 130-year sentence for the Treasure Island robbery and other offenses.

Putting on the Ritz | Cheating the Game |£1.3M

In 2004 three men set out to rob some casinos in London, England, and chose London’s Ritz Casino as their target. They set up casino games in a private area and devised hacks to cheat them. The most successful plan was to cheat the roulette wheel. They used their cellphone camera to measure the speed of the wheel and predict the outcome of the spins.

Greed is what tears these sweet gigs up. After winning well over a million pounds, the men were reported to authorities by the casino staff. When the three criminals were brought before the local courts, they were found innocent of committing any known crime. The only penalty they received was a lifetime ban from London’s casinos. Word of their score traveled the globe, and it’s now standard policy to ban the use of your camera near any table game at the casino.

The Soboba Grab & Dash | Armed Robbery | $1.5M

Eric A. Aguilera and his accomplish Luda Ramos robbed The Soboba Casino in Las Vegas in 2005. The Soboba Grab and Dash was a casino heist straight out of the Hollywood movies. The two stormed into the casino, held everyone at gunpoint and tied up several of the casino staff.

Eric and Luda’s robbery game plan was the type of theft most banks and casinos train for on a yearly basis. In this instance, the training worked, as none of the staff were injured, and the authorities were notified before Eric and Luda left the casino. This warning from the casino staff gave the police a head start, and they were able to apprehend the criminals after a short high-speed chase into the desert.

The MIT Blackjack Team | Cheating the Game | $100M+

Once upon a time, there was a group of college students in desperate need of money (no news there). This group of broke college students decided they would teach themselves card counting methods to use at the blackjack table. There’s a documentary about this well-planned heist which took place from 1979-1993 where a group of college students practiced card counting vigorously and made systems to make it faster and easier.

They worked as a team to give themselves a distinct advantage over the house. In systematic fashion, they cheated Vegas casinos for untold millions of dollars. They were so fortunate with their success that people who participate in the first group started to form their own teams. Criminals who heard about the book and movie have since begun their very own teams of card counters.

The MIT Blackjack Team did eventually get banned from playing Blackjack at any casino, and their charade ultimately came to an end. They were never labeled as criminals and kept their winnings. So, it’s questionable if this clever group of college students was ever really punished for their crimes.

Getting Taken for a Ride | Inside Fraud Job | $258M

There are many large casino-resorts who use junket services to bring guests to casinos. One such junket operator, named Dore, is responsible for acting as a middleman for high rollers visiting casinos in Macau, China. Dore had been bringing gamblers to the Wynn Resorts in Macau.

The junket operators are important because they lend the money to the players so they can participate. In Sept. 2015, one of the junkets were frauded out of $258 million. This was a bit of a hit to the cash flow and impacted Wynn Resorts stock only momentarily. The individual(s) responsible for the fraud have not been named, and the case is still under investigation.


We took you around the world covering about a 30-year history of casino robberies in this article. There’s plenty of attempted casino robberies that never made it to this list, but these are some of the most well-known heists to date. Although security in Casinos is ever increasing, there will always be someone crazy enough to attempt a heist. The likelihood of success, however, continues to diminish. As with most of the examples listed above, it seems the House truly does always win.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.